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Advancing Your Career in Cancer Research


Organized by AACR Science Education and Career Advancement Committee, we are pleased to offer this highly interactive Professional Advancement session in which experienced AACR members will share their views on different career opportunities in cancer research with interested early-career scientists. Participants will have the opportunity to meet with AACR members who have extensive experience and insight into the various career opportunities available to the next generation of researchers. The ability to have personal discussions with experts will enhance the knowledge base of young scientists and will provide them with potential opportunities for the next steps in their careers.

The session will focus on informal round-table discussions between the round-table mentors and the participants. There will be 30 distinguished cancer research mentors from either academia, industry, or government. The mentors will accommodate approximately nine attendees at varying career levels/stages. The participants are invited to informally speak with a round-table mentor for approximately a half hour. After the first half hour, attendees will be provided the opportunity to change tables/mentors and continue networking. The mentors will generally network, answer questions related to professional development in the basic, clinical, translational and population cancer research fields and provide advice regarding the future of cancer research. 

We would encourage you to take advantage of this exclusive opportunity for one-on-one time with leaders in the cancer research field by attending this sessions during the Annual Meeting! If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact our staff at   


Please refer to the list of senior scientists below who are participating at the AACR Annual Meeting 2020 in San Diego, California.

Oliver Bogler, PhD

Oliver Bogler, PhD

Director, Center for Cancer Training

National Cancer Institute

Bethesda, Maryland

Oliver studied natural sciences at Cambridge University, completed his PhD at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in London and did his postdoctoral training at the Salk Institute, and the Ludwig Institute, San Diego. He was on faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University, Henry Ford Hospital and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center where he also served as director of basic research for the Brain Tumor Center. His work focused on EGFR signaling and novel platinum compounds in glioblastoma.

In 2010, he became MD Anderson’s vice president for Global Academic Programs supporting a network of 35 sister Institutions in 22 countries and fostered cancer research and training across the globe. In 2011, he was also appointed senior vice president for academic affairs, stewarded MD Anderson’s education mission and accreditation, and oversaw 300 people, who supported 1,700 faculty and more than 2,000 trainees and students. In 2018, he became COO at the ECHO Institute at the University of New Mexico, and helped democratize scarce expert knowledge to improve services to the underserved in health care, education, and beyond. In 2020

David D. Chang, MD, PhD

President and CEO

Allogene Therapeutics, Inc.

South San Francisco, California

Lisa M. Coussens, PhD

Associate Director for Basic Research, Chair, Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology

OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Portland, Oregon

Dr. Coussens is the chair of the Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology, and associate director for basic research in the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU) and holds the Hildegard Lamfrom chair in basic science. She received her PhD in biological chemistry from UCLA in 1993, and completed her postdoctoral fellowship in cancer biology at UCSF in Douglas Hanahans’ laboratory.  

Dr. Coussens research focus is on elucidating the roles of immune cells and their mediators as critical regulators of solid tumor development. Her lab reported that lymphocytes selectively regulate myeloid cell functions in mouse models of squamous and mammary carcinoma, mesothelioma, and pancreatic adenocarcinoma, and that selective inhibition of key factors regulating either myeloid recruitment or function significantly enhances efficacy of chemo- and radiation therapy, and thereby extend long-term survival of tumor-bearing mice. These discoveries are currently being translated into the clinical realm; Dr. Coussens is Lead PI on a KOMEN Promise grant conducting an investigator-initiated multi-center Phase Ib/II clinical trial evaluating a novel macrophage-antagonist in combination with chemotherapy in women with metastatic triple negative breast cancer. 

More recently, Dr. Coussens was awarded a Stand Up To Cancer – Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Convergence Dream Team Translational Research grant focused on clinical evaluation of immune-based therapies in pancreas cancer. Her contributions to this international team are based on her laboratories identification of B cells and humoral immune-mediated factors regulating T cells and immune suppression in squamous and pancreas cancer. Specifically, her studies are supporting evaluation of a Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor plus chemotherapy in Phase Ib/II clinical trials of pancreatic cancer and head and neck cancer patients. Dr. Coussens has received the prestigious Gertrude B. Elion Award from the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), the Mallinckrodt Award for Medical Science, a V Foundation Scholar Award, and two sequential Era of Hope Scholar Awards from the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. In 2012, she was the recipient of the AACR-Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Memorial Lectureship, and the 2015 recipient of the 13th Rosalind E. Franklin Award from the National Cancer Institute.

William S. Dalton, MD, PhD

William S. Dalton, MD, PhD

Founder and Executive Chair


Tampa, Florida

Dr. William (Bill) S. Dalton is founder and executive chair of M2Gen, a national biotechnology subsidiary of the Moffitt Cancer Center. He is the past president, CEO, and center director of Moffitt Cancer Center, an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center (2002-2012). Prior to joining Moffitt, Dr. Dalton was the dean of the University of Arizona College of Medicine. His research interests include development of information systems to allow aggregation, organization, and sharing of patient data in real time to enhance discovery and delivery of evidenced-based precision medicine. For his leadership in the area of personalized medicine, Dr. Dalton was recognized as the 2010 recipient of the Personalized Medicine Coalition’s National Leadership in Personalized Medicine Award. Dr. Dalton’s basic and translational research interests focus on molecular mechanisms of drug resistance and drug discovery. He has over 200 publications, serves on several editorial boards, and has numerous patents in the fields of drug discovery and computer/information networking. He has served on numerous not-for-profit boards, including the National Board of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; he is the past-chair of the Personalized Medicine Coalition and is the current board chair of the Institute of Human and Machine Cognition. He is also the past-president of the Association of American Cancer Institutes.

Keywords: drug development, mechanisms of drug resistance; data science and machine learning

Lisa M. DeAngelis, MD


Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

New York, New York

Dr. DeAngelis is a neuro-oncologist with more than 30 years of experience in caring for people with brain tumors and neurologic complications due to cancer. She is also physician-in-chief and chief medical officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering, where she oversees all clinical, research, and medical education efforts for Memorial Hospital.

When neuro-oncology was a budding field, Dr. DeAngelis came to MSK to do her fellowship under Jerome Posner, the founding chair of neurology. Dr. DeAngelis has been honored to call MSK her home since and assumed the role of chair in 1997. Over the years, the department has grown substantially into what is today one of the most robust neuro-oncology programs in the world. Dr. DeAngelis co-founded MSK’s Brain Tumor Center, where experts from across MSK work to bring new discoveries from the lab to our patients as quickly as possible. Her own research is focused on primary brain tumors and the neurological complications of cancer and its treatment, including cognitive impairment and strokes. She has helped develop the current regimen to treat primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma, and Dr. DeAngelis has led national clinical trials that investigate new brain tumor therapies.

Caroline Dive, PhD

Caroline Dive, PhD

Deputy Director, CRUK Manchester Institute; Director, CRUK Manchester Institute Cancer Biomarker Centre

Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, The University of Manchester

Manchester, United Kingdom

After completing her PhD studies in Cambridge, Dr. Dive moved to Aston University’s School of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Birmingham where she started her own group studying mechanisms of drug induced tumor cell death. She then moved as a Cancer Research Campaign fellow to the Faculty of Life Sciences at The University of Manchester to continue this research. Dr. Dive was awarded a Lister Institute of Preventative Medicine Research Fellowship before moving to the CRUK Manchester Institute in 2003. Here she set up the Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology Group and began to develop biomarkers, and notably liquid biopsies to support personalized medicine.

Dr. Dive’s biomarker research has continued to expand and she now directs the Cancer Research UK Manchester Cancer Biomarker Centre where a flagship project is using a patient’s circulating tumour DNA profile to support Phase I trial selection. Her team is also well known for their work on small cell lung cancer and notably for circulating tumor cell derived preclinical models that faithfully mimic SCLC donor patients that are now being used to test novel therapies and discover new drug targets for aggressive tumor type. A current priority for her research is the use of liquid biopsies (blood tests) for the earlier detection of lung cancers. She is currently senior group leader and deputy director of the CRUK Manchester Institute and professor of cancer pharmacology at The University of Manchester. She also co-leads the CRUK Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence and is Manchester’s non-clinical lead of its Experimental Cancer Medicines Center.

Keywords: lung cancer, liquid biopsies, mouse models, circulating tumour cells

Steven M. Dubinett, MD

Professor, Department of Medicine

University of California Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California

Steven M. Dubinett, MD, associate vice chancellor and senior associate dean for translational research, directs the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). He is jointly appointed as professor in the Departments of Medicine, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and Molecular and Medical Pharmacology. He has experience in translational investigation, academic administration, mentorship, and peer review. Building on original discoveries relevant to immunity and inflammation in the pathogenesis of lung cancer, he has developed a translational research program, which now utilizes these laboratory-based discoveries in the translational research and clinical environment. As a member of NCI’s Translational Research Working Group, he participated in designing pathways to clinical goals. He previously chaired the FDA Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee. He served on the NCI Thoracic Malignancy Steering Committee as a translational science representative. He serves on the advisory boards for the Colorado Lung Cancer SPORE, Texas Lung Cancer SPORE, Uniting Against Lung Cancer, LUNGevity and the Lung Cancer Foundation of America. He has served on several NIH study sections including, Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy (CII) and Tumor Microenvironment (TME). Dr. Dubinett has trained more than 45-graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty, nearly all of whom have continued in academic or industry research careers.

Keywords: lung cancer, immunotherapy, tumor microenvironment, premalignancy

Raymond N. DuBois, MD, PhD

Raymond N. DuBois, MD, PhD

Dean, College of Medicine

Medical University of South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

A physician scientist and administrator with expertise in basic, translational and clinical research, Dr. DuBois currently holds a joint appointment at the Mayo Clinic and is internationally renowned for his work in cancer prevention. Dr. DuBois’ current research at Arizona State University is focused on discovering combination therapies to advance the treatment of colorectal cancer.

In ground-breaking research, Dr. DuBois elucidated the role of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) in colon cancer and the contributions of the lipid metabolite prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) to tissue inflammation in the etiology of colon cancer. This research led to the finding that use of a COX-2 inhibitor reduced polyp formation in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis. His recent research has focused on molecules involved in tissue inflammation and epigenetic changes in colorectal cancer progression, showing that PGE2 induces DNA methylation in PGE2-treated colon cancer cells and mouse interstitial tissues, leading to selective silencing of tumor suppressor genes.

Jennifer R. Grandis, MD

Jennifer R. Grandis, MD

Distinguished Professor, Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

University of California San Francisco

San Francisco, California

Jennifer Grandis is a physician scientist whose research efforts are focused on elucidating and targeting key signaling pathways and genomic alterations in head and neck cancer with the goals of enabling precision medicine studies. She leverages her access to head and neck cancer (HNC) patients and their biospecimens to optimize translational research studies that include developing novel therapies in the laboratory for clinical application as well as generating and interrogating relevant preclinical models to determine the underlying mechanism of clinical findings. She helped lead the national efforts to determine the genetic and epigenetic landscape of HNC and now routinely deploys these findings to deliver HNC precision medicine. She directed the head and neck cancer program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute from 1998-2014 where she facilitated collaborations between clinicians and investigators with an emphasis of developing a robust research infrastructure to support clinical and translational cancer studies. She moved to UCSF in 2015 to serve as the associate vice chancellor for clinical and translational research where she also directed the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). She is an American Cancer Society Clinical Research professor who is dedicated to training the next generation of investigators.

Keywords: clinical and translational research, head and neck cancer

David M. Hyman, MD

David M. Hyman, MD

Chief Medical Officer

Loxo Oncology at Lilly

Stamford, Connecticut

David Hyman is a medical oncologist. Dr. Hyman spent the initial part of his career as a practicing academic oncologist with a research focus in target therapy, cancer genomics, and drug development. Dr. Hyman served as chief of the early drug development service at Memorial Sloan Kettering. He is credited with playing a pivotal role in the creation of ‘basket studies’ and was involved in the approval of several drugs. In January 2020, Dr. Hyman transition to industry where he now serves as chief medical officer for Loxo Oncology at Lilly where he helps to lead oncology research and development.

Keywords: Clinical trials, targeted therapy, precision medicine, drug development

Tari A. King, MD

Tari A. King, MD

Anne E. Dyson Professor of Surgery in the Field of Women’s Cancers, Harvard Medical School; Associate Chair for Multidisciplinary Oncology, Department of Surgery; Chief, Division of Breast Surgery

Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School

Boston, Massachusetts

Dr. Tari A. King is the Anne E. Dyson professor of surgery in the field of women’s cancers at Harvard Medical School, the chief of the Division of Breast Surgery and the associate chair of multidisciplinary oncology in the Department of Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the chief of breast surgery at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. She is also the director of the Breast Cancer Personalized Risk Assessment, Education and Prevention (B-PREP) Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. King received her medical degree from University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and completed a general surgery residency at Ochsner Clinic Foundation Hospital (now Ochsner Medical Center) in New Orleans. Dr. King completed both a surgical research fellowship and a breast surgery clinical fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Her clinical and research efforts focus on improving clinical management strategies for women at high risk of developing breast cancer with a special emphasis on lobular carcinoma in situ and atypical hyperplasia. Dr. King currently serves on the Steering Committee for the TBCRC, the NCI Breast Oncology Local Disease Task Force and the Executive Council of the SSO.

Keywords: breast surgery, high risk lesions, lobular carcinoma in situ, de novo Stage IV breast cancer

Jonathan D. Licht, MD

Jonathan D. Licht, MD


University of Florida Health Cancer Center

Miami, Florida

Jonathan D. Licht, MD, is the director of the University of Florida Health Cancer Center. Dr. Licht’s laboratory studies the role of abnormal function of histone methyltransferases and demethylases in malignancies such as multiple myeloma and recently described a new class of mutations in histones in cancer.

NCI funded for 30 years, Dr. Licht is also principal investigator of a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) Specialized Center of Research and co-leader of the Chicago Region Physical Sciences Oncology Center. He is an associate editor of Oncogene and serves on the editorial boards of Cancer Discovery, Cancer Cell, Cancer Research and Clinical Cancer Research. Dr. Licht is chair of the Taskforce for Hematological Malignancies of AACR, and is incoming chair of the Medical/Scientific Board of the LLS. Dr. Licht has published nearly 200 articles, reviews and book chapters and has mentored over 40 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and 20 faculty members.

Keywords: cancer epigenetics, molecular basis of multiple myeloma and leukemia

David Malkin, MD

David Malkin, MD

Professor of Pediatrics

The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Malkin is professor of pediatrics and medical biophysics in the faculty of medicine, University of Toronto. He holds the CIBC chair in child health research, is a pediatric oncologist, director of the cancer genetics program, and a senior scientist in the genetics and genome biology program at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He is co-director of the SickKids Cancer Sequencing (KiCS) program which integrates and translates next generation sequencing into clinical care of children with cancer, and director of the pan-Canadian multi-institutional PRecision Oncology For Young peopLE (PROFYLE) initiative which is establishing a pipeline to incorporate next generation sequencing into novel clinical trials (‘precision oncology’) for children and young adults with hard-to-treat cancers across Canada. Dr. Malkin’s research program focuses on genetic and genomic mechanisms of childhood cancer susceptibility which he has explored particularly in the context of TP53 and Li-Fraumeni syndrome. Recently, his work has addressed the application of genomics to develop rational clinical surveillance and treatment guidelines for children and adults at genetic ‘high risk’ for cancer. He has published over 250 peer-reviewed articles and has received several awards recognizing his research, mentorship, clinical and leadership work over the years.

Keywords: cancer genetics/genomics, hereditary cancer syndromes, childhood cancer

Lilli M. Petruzzelli, MD, PhD

Lilli M. Petruzzelli, MD, PhD

Group VP, Head Early Clinical Development


Wilmington, Delaware

Dr. Petruzzelli received a BS in chemistry and biology from MIT and her MD/PhD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She did residency training in internal medicine and her fellowship in hematology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. From 1994 until 2007, she was a faculty member and associate professor in the Department of Hematology and Oncology at the University of Michigan where she established a laboratory-based research program focused on the regulation of integrin-dependent adhesion and a clinical practice specializing in hematologic malignancies.

Dr. Petruzzelli began her career in industry at Millennium in 2007, where she played a key role in the development of the Nedd-8 activating enzyme inhibitor and the oral second-generation proteasome inhibitor, Ninlaro. She joined Novartis in 2009 focusing on translational medicine in oncology and had increasing roles of responsibility most recently leading Translational Clinical Oncology group since 2014. There, she oversaw the development of the early oncology pipeline including the registration study for the ALK inhibitor Zykadia, the early development of Kisqali, the development a novel BCR-ABL inhibitor, ABL001, and the entire pre-PoC targeted and immuneoncology portfolios. She has recently taken a positon at Incyte leading the early clinical development group there.

Keywords: Hematologic malignancies, drug development, clinical trials, signal transduction

C. Kent Osborne, MD

C. Kent Osborne, MD

Director, Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center

Baylor College of Medicine

Houston, Texas

Dr. C. Kent Osborne was born in 1946 in St. Louis, Missouri. He received his AB and MD degrees from the University of Missouri, both with honors. He completed his internship and residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1974, and then spent three years as a clinical associate at the Medicine Branch, Breast Cancer Section of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. In 1977 he took his first faculty position at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, where he rose to the rank of professor and became director of the Division of Medical Oncology in 1992. In 1999, Dr. Osborne and his team moved to Baylor College of Medicine to develop a new multidisciplinary Breast Center and in 2005 he was named director of the new Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine, which achieved “comprehensive” designation under his leadership in 2015.

Dr. Osborne is a physician scientist who has focused on breast cancer his entire career. His research interests include understanding the biology of breast cancer and then developing new treatment approaches for the disease. He has published extensively on the mechanisms by which hormonal therapies such as tamoxifen inhibit breast cancer growth and how breast cancers become resistant to these therapies. He has also studied the role of various growth factors in breast cancer development and progression, and more recently how these other growth factors can interact with estrogen to stimulate tumor growth. His laboratory is also focusing on the mechanisms by which breast cancers develop resistance to HER2-targeted therapies. For more than a decade Dr. Osborne was chairman of the Breast Cancer Committee for the Southwest Oncology Group, where he directed numerous nationwide clinical trials investigating new treatment strategies for breast cancer patients. For over 20 years, he was the principal investigator of the Baylor Breast Cancer Specialized Program of Research Excellence grant which has been funded since the program began in 1992.

Among his previous awards are the Komen Foundation Award, the Brinker International Award for Breast Cancer Research, the European Institute of Oncology Annual Breast Cancer Award, and the ASCO Bonadonna Award for Breast Cancer Research. Most recently, he received The 2018 AACR Distinguished Investigator Award for Extraordinary Scientific Achievement and Leadership in Breast Cancer Research. In Baylor College of Medicine, he is the director of the Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center and professor of medicine and molecular and cellular biology. He currently holds the Tina and Dudley Sharp chair in oncology at Baylor College of Medicine.

Keywords: treatment resistance in ER+ and Her2+ breast cancer, clinical trials

Victoria M. Richon, PhD

Victoria M. Richon, PhD

President and CEO

Ribon Therapeutics

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Victoria Richon is a scientifically trained executive with leadership experience in small biotechnology companies, global pharmaceutical companies and academia. Currently, Dr. Richon is the president and CEO of Ribon Therapeutics, a clinical stage biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of new cancer medicines. Before joining Ribon, Dr. Richon was the vice president and global head of oncology research and translational medicine at Sanofi where she was responsible for the oncology drug discovery and translational medicine portfolio. Prior to Sanofi, Dr. Richon was vice president of biological sciences at Epizyme Inc., a biotechnology company pioneering the discovery and development of first-in-class therapeutics focused upon epigenetics, including the tazemetostat, the first EZH2 inhibitor approved by the FDA for the treatment of advanced epithelioid sarcoma. Earlier in her career, she was founder and executive director of Aton Pharmaceuticals which was acquired by Merck & Co. Aton was formed to develop HDAC inhibitors, including vorinostat, the first HDAC inhibitor approved by the FDA. Dr. Richon is a member of the Board of Directors of HotSpot Therapeutics Inc. and Epizyme Inc. Dr. Richon is the author of over 100 papers and carried out postdoctoral studies at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Keywords: oncology drug discovery, chromatin biology, biomarkers